Category Archives: What in tarnation?!@

“It’s like the super hot girl at the bar who is flirting with you but you don’t know if she actually is or if you even want her to for fear of what might happen.”

What is happening.

The Brewers keep winning.

The Cardinals just got swept by the Padres (first time since 1995).

Rickie Weeks is a MAN.

And suddenly, the Brewers are three games out of a playoff spot.

The point of this post is not to dissect their chances, which are all of a sudden worth dissecting. That will come. No, the purpose of this post is to point out how ABSURD this all is.

Two days ago–TWO DAYS–Baseball Prospectus had the Brewers’ playoff odds at 0.0%. In reality, it was probably something like 0.04% and they rounded down, but whatever. Two days ago. Today it is 1.8, and tomorrow it should jump up a good amount.

I don’t normally do this, but I’m going to interject a bit of my personal life into this post. I just started a demanding new job. I’m moving this weekend. In other words, I have a lot going on. I had come to peace with the fact that the Brewers were not making the playoffs this season, and I had even managed to look on the bright side: Not having to watch every inning of every game the rest of the year will actually be beneficial to my mental and physical well being.

So much for that. My last post was all about how I’m not getting sucked in, but that was when they were still over six games out. They’ve cut that in half in just a few days. I don’t particularly want to be invested in this, but at just three games out, I’m afraid I have no choice.

Special thanks to reader/commenter Shawn, the genius behind this incredibly accurate title/analogy for how I currently feel about the Brewers.

 

My response to the Journal-Sentinel’s ‘Seasons of Greatness’

Posted by Steve

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently completed their rankings of the top ten seasons in Wisconsin sports history. If anyone knows me, you know I of course thought of Ben Sheets’ 2004 season, that of 264 strikeouts to 32 walks. Incredible. This was the year of his 18 strikeout game, among other great performances (Incidentally, all the people whoever said Ben Sheets wasn’t tough probably don’t realize he threw 673 2/3 innings over the course of three seasons, or that he pitched all of 2004 with a herniated disc. But that’s not my point here, so I’ll move on).

What’s actually more incredible is the fact that nobody noticed that season happened. The win is obviously a horrible pitching “stat,” but this very season is why I hate that stat the most. Sheets finished eighth in Cy Young voting that year. The joys of playing for a crappy team.

Are you ready for an eye-popping statistic?

You sure?

Sheets’ WAR of 8.0 that year is higher than any NL Cy Young Winner since 2002 (tied with Lincecum)!

It’s one thing to go unnoticed on a national level, but apparently it wasn’t even noticed right here in Milwaukee.

Not that I expected Sheets’ 2004 to make the top 5 or 6, or even top 10 (though I would put him in), I certainly expected it to be in the discussion. Instead, it didn’t get one measly vote. One of the best seasons of its decade, and zero votes.

I’ll only stick to baseball players on their list, since comparing him to athletes from other sports seems pretty arbitrary, but Ben Sheets very likely has had the best season of any pitcher in Milwaukee baseball history–that’s Brewers and Braves–and it’s gone completely unrecognized in the teams’ own city! Here are some pitchers who beat him out.

CC Sabathia got seven votes. He wasn’t even here the full season, and his 2008 season was worse than Sheets’ 2004.

Warren Spahn got 7 votes for a season in which he struck out 111 and walked 78.

Lew Burdette got 4 votes for a season in which he struck out 78 (!) and walked 59. His ERA+ was 94, meaning he was below league average!

Rollie Fingers had a great year for a closer, but he threw 78 innings. This won him an MVP!? Insane. Also crazy to put him #9 on the list.

Clearly these “experts” just based it on A) team achievements and B) awards, such as MVP or Cy Young, which are often based on team achievements.

I swear, if I was given ten seconds on national television to say absolutely anything in the world, there’s a good chance it would be, “Ben Sheets’ 2004 season is one of the most underrated in history. Go look at the numbers.”

————————–

Changing gears here for a bit of news. I am happy to announce that I will be writing for a new site this year: Reviewing the Brew. It’s part of the growing FanSided blogging network, and it’s made some big strides since it started in 2009. They’ve asked me to join, and I’m excited to expand my audience and work with other writers.

Just to be clear, I will still be running this site and writing here plenty; I will just be writing there in addition. The idea is that this will help expand my audience, and hopefully bring more readers here as well. It won’t be the same content, either; I’ll have original stuff for both sites.

If you want to keep up with what I’m writing over there, the best way is to (sorry to say this) follow me on twitter. Anything I post at Reviewing the Brew will be linked on twitter. Look for my first post soon, likely on the topic of trading Nyjer Morgan.

As always, thanks to everyone for reading.

Ryan Braun wins his appeal

Posted by Steve

Excuse me.

More to come as news comes out. Until then… Think about how many times we’re going to hear that Bud got his Brewers off the hook.

Cool off-season, Brewers. Not.

Posted by Steve

When the Alex Gonzalez signing broke Friday, I figured I could wait til Monday to post about it. What was going to happen over the weekend, anyway?

So basically, we have the good (Alex Gonzalez signing), the bad (Aramis Ramirez signing), and the ugly (Braun).

It seems silly to talk in depth about Alex Gonzalez, which is what I would have done a few days ago. So for now, I’ll just say that the fact I’m excited about his signing goes to show how truly awful Betancourt was. Gonzalez isn’t a great shortstop by any means. He’s an awful hitter with just as poor OBP skills as Betancourt, or at least almost as poor. The reason I’m excited is because no matter what metric you consult, the consensus is that he’s a good fielding shortstop. That means he’s a fairly significant upgrade, and he was cheap and only for one year. Not bad, all things considered.

Really, this has to be about Braun…. But what is there to even say at this point? Other than this seems like a bizarre case, not too much. At the risk of sounding like a Giants fan defending Barry Bonds, the few details we do have seem so fishy that it sounds like he could be innocent, so I’m fully willing to reserve judgment until more information comes out. Even if he does end up looking to be clean, I am fully expecting him to be suspended. MLB is trying to look tough with their new PED program, and what better way to do that than by making an example of a superstar? Short of proof that some guy spiked Braun’s sample for banging his girlfriend or something, I don’t think MLB will accept his appeal.

One thing that seems hopeful are the reports that it was not a PED, but simply a “banned substance,” whatever that means. That could mean his suspension would be only 25 games, and might save Braun’s public image a bit.

I know I haven’t really said much, but I don’t know that there is much to say about it at this point.

So, let’s talk about Aramis Ramirez. You know, the guy who threw his helmet at my favorite player of all time. The guy who hit a crippling walk-off homer against the Brewers years ago. The guy who has been criticized for laziness, can’t field anymore, and is 34 years old.

The guy who now plays third base for the Brewers. Ugh.

Even putting aside the fact that I don’t like him at all, I hate this signing. I detailed why a couple posts ago, and Ramirez ended up getting even more money that I would have figured. I hate the fact that there’s a third year. Who was Doug Melvin bidding against? Nobody else was even reported to be interested in him. Why a third year? He can’t even play third base right now; I cringe to think of three years from now.

Really, the Brewers acquired yet another first baseman. Their overall disregard for defense is really getting old, as Ramirez is  worse than McGehee at third.

If the Brewers had $36 million or whatever burning a hole in their pocket, I wish they’d have spent it in a place where they didn’t have a viable replacement already. Edwin Jackson to replace Chris Narveson would have been a better use of that money, for example.

So now Taylor Green remains a backup for the next three years. To be honest, they might as well just trade him now. They’d get more value out of him that way.

For what it’s worth, and I’m just rambling now, if Braun is out I’d like to see Ramirez at first, Green at third and Gamel in left during that time.

But anyway. Some good news: as I was typing this, the Brewers traded Casey McGehee to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras. I’m shocked they got something in return, but I’m glad they won’t be paying 3 million bucks or whatever for McGehee.

So I guess we’re looking at an infield of Ramirez, Gonzalez, Weeks, and Gamel. Probably about average offensively, while still below average defensively. I’d love the infield if it was only going to look like that for a year, but like I said, I don’t want Ramirez for three years.

So, I guess there isn’t too much left for the Brewers. They need to sign a utility infielder–I wouldn’t mind Nick Punto as a good defensive utility player, since Green is an offensive player. They also probably need to trade K-Rod, as their payroll is now over $100 million.

The Brewers, depending on Braun’s status, should still be good next year. My problem is that they could have still been good without overpaying for an aging Aramis Ramirez.

 

Well, crap.

Posted by Steve

Doug Melvin and the Brewers just got bamboozled: Apparently Francisco Rodriguez has decided to accept arbitration.

Goodbye draft picks and a good shortstop. Hello to the most expensive set-up man in baseball.

For the record, I don’t blame Doug Melvin at all. I would have done the exact same thing. I really wanted him to offer K-Rod arbitration. I didn’t think there was any way he’d accept. This is the guy who bitched and moaned during a playoff stretch because he wasn’t getting a chance to close games. There was no way he’d accept arbitration from a team who wouldn’t even use him as a closer. Obviously, he found that the market for closers wasn’t as good as he thought.

This is truly surprising, as Melvin only first mentioned this possibility just the other day. Clearly, he anticipated Rodriguez declining the arby offer.

“That hasn’t really been part of our thinking but it probably should be. Obviously, it would affect what you do in other things but he’d fill a hole that we have right now, too.”

So, what now?

The Brewers have a few options. They could still try to trade K-Rod. A couple years ago, Rafael Soriano accepted arbitration in a similar situation and was traded straight up for reliever Jesse Chavez. The Brewers could hope for something like this, and it’s probably the most desirable outcome.

Another option would be to flat out release him. Arbitration contracts are not guaranteed. He could be released before the end of Spring Training, and the Brewers would only be on the hook for 1/6 of his salary. Considering he made $11.5 million last year, he’ll probably be at around 13 mil, in which case the buyout would be a bit over $2 million. The Brewers released someone in this way a couple years ago… I want to say it was Claudio Vargas. That, of course, was a much smaller penalty since Vargas didn’t make nearly this much.

Here’s hoping the Brewers are able to deal KROD without having to pay much of his salary. Again, I don’t blame Melvin at all, but he gambled and lost. Now they have to deal with it.

To look on the bright side, here’s hoping this development prevents the Brewers from throwing a boatload of cash at Aramis Ramirez. They have even less money to work with now, so they need to focus solely on shortstop. That, or finding someone to take KROD and his @13 million off their hands.

Why not?

Posted by Steve

Well, this hasn’t gone well.

Since I last posted, things couldn’t have gone much worse baseball-wise. Satan held up his end of the bargain with Tony La Russa and David Freese, and the Cardinals finished off the Rangers for the World Series.

Then, TLR retired (some people were excited about this, but now the Brewers will never get to beat him).

Shortly after, the Cubs hired Theo Epstein away from the Red Sox.

And you just know the Cardinals are going to hire Terry Francona, one of the few good managers in baseball.

I couldn’t even get excited about the Brewers declining Yuniesky Betancourt’s option, because they’re apparently considering bringing him back at a lower price.

No, there isn’t much to feel good about right now on the baseball front.

I am amused by something though. All of a sudden, the hottest commodity for teams looking a new manager is…

Dale Sveum?

Really. He wasn’t good in his brief stint with the Brewers in 2008, but apparently that’s no matter. He becomes hitting coach for a team with some good hitters, and now all of a sudden he’s a hot commodity? For the Red Sox and Cubs?

Whatever. I hope he goes to the Cubs, because I’d like to see them bunt all the time, but considering the way things have been going, it will probably be Boston.

Impossible

Posted by Steve

The impossible just happened. The Diamondbacks lost the game, clinching homefield in the first round for the Brewers. The game reached the point of a statistical impossibility of a win.

Then they won.

Two outs. Nobody on. Down  by FIVE RUNS. And they won the game.

I am honestly willing to bet that has never happened in MLB history. 99.9% does not do this justice. This has to be about one in a million. I am not exaggerating; that is actually my guess.

This ruins the Brewers plans entirely. They could have used Greinke for an inning or two tomorrow in a meaningless game and had him ready for Game 2. Now they need to freaking win it. So do they pitch him the entire game in hopes of winning? That would push him back to Game 3. Or do they pitch him just an inning, save him for Game 2, and then pin their hopes for homefield on the arms of the entire bullpen for most of a game?

I cannot even communicate how stunned I am right now. This could not have happened. It’s truly impossible.

I won’t stop

Posted by Steve

The Brewers look great. I don’t want my negative-toned posts to take away from that. The pitching is still awesome, and the offense is back on track. They’re cruising to the playoffs, and they’re looking hopeful for that important number 2 seed. So why all my negativity?

Every post now has the playoffs in mind.

Over the last 26 games, Casey McGehee has a .593 OPS. He’s been even worse than he’s been over the course of his entire terrible 2011 season.

Meanwhile, here’s what Ron Roenicke has to say about McGehee. “It’s frustrating to (McGehee) because he feels good and his swing is good. I agree that his swing looks good. That’s why it’s surprising.”

Ron, what games have you been watching? I cannot fathom how anyone in his right mind could watch Casey McGehee at the plate and come away with the impression that he is having good at-bats.

McGehee has consistently been swinging at pitches out of the zone. At the same time, he’s taking pitches right over the plate, which shows he’s lost and is simply guessing rather than seeing and reacting. When he does swing at a strike, he doesn’t hit it square–either a foul or a weak grounder/flyout. He has hardly hit a ball solidly in the last month!

Also, on a different note, McGehee is not good defensively. He’s sure-handed enough, but his lack of athleticism limits his range. Green clearly has more range at third; anyone could see that. Yet, RRR has taken Taylor Green out of games late. He thinks McGehee is a defensive upgrade! I think he’s been listening to BA and Bill’s broadcasts too much. His affinity for McGehee is baffling.

With Weeks back, the makings of a great lineup are there. Hart-Morgan-Braun-Fielder-Weeks-Green is a great 1-6–likely the best in the NL playoffs. These last handful of games would be a great time to try this lineup and get everyone comfortable heading into the postseason.

McGehee must be removed from this lineup.

Enough is enough

Posted by Steve

The Brewers are tied in the tenth inning as I write this. I wanted to make that clear so it doesn’t seem like I’m reacting based on the outcome of tonight’s game. The reality is I can’t stand watching this anymore, and even though I’ve harped on it all year, I can’t help this:

It is maddening that Casey McGehee and Yuniesky Betancourt are still playing regularly. Absolutely appalling.

Any way you look at it, those two have been awful. They are two of the nine worst qualified players in the NL according to WAR. McGehee’s OBP has been below .300 all season. Betancourt has coupled bad defense with an astonishing .271 on-base percentage.

Even if you hate statistics, it’s not as though they’re passing the eye test. Betancourt looks lazy and slow on defense. He swings lazily and is probably the least disciplined hitter in the league. McGehee looks tentative, and at times, lost on offense. He also has no range at third defensively.

I simply do not understand why they are allowed to hurt this team any longer. It makes no sense. Don Money can publicly chastise prospects who have actually produced, yet Betancourt and McGehee are allowed to play despite contributing nothing. It’s an organizational double standard.

Taylor Green needs to play third against all right-handed pitchers. Hairston needs to play short against all right-handed pitchers. There is absolutely no justification for doing otherwise.

The Brewers are going into the playoffs knowingly fielding less than their best team. It is mind-boggling, and if they don’t change it immediately, they don’t deserve to win anything.

 

St. Louis Classies

Posted by Steve

So much to talk about. Before I get going, I might as well paste this. I wrote this last night after the game, but I lost internet, so I couldn’t post it.

——–

Brutal loss last night, particularly because I was there. It was a crazy, long game that both teams were desperately trying to win.

I have to say I was reminded of this game when La Russa did what La Russa does and retaliated on Ryan Braun. How dumb was it of him to put the leadoff runner on in the eighth inning of a tie game? Never mind that the Brewers blew a bases loaded, nobody out opportunity–that was an incredibly dumb move that just happened to work out this time. Definitely a Yostian move.

Still, how do the Cardinals continue to get away with this garbage? Saito hits Pujols in a situation where hitting him was not what he wanted to do, so there’s no way it was intentional. The next inning, a pitch way inside misses Braun. The next one hits him… And there was no ejection! How obvious can it get! Ugh, I hate the Cardinals.

Anyway. What a crappy way to lose. From the bases loaded, nobody out opportunity blown, to the guy I wanted the Brewers to acquire (Furcal) making a nice play to save the game, to La Russa and Molina’s crap, to Berkman’s dinky game-winner–it doesn’t get much worse.

This was a very tough game to lose, especially since I fully expect the Brewers to lose tomorrow. Randy Wolf is getting by on smoke and mirrors lately, and I’m just waiting for something like a combined 5-8 with two homers from Pujols and Holliday. Games against the Cards now are huge. They went from being 4.5 up to 2.5 up, all because Furcal made a good play and Berkman hit a duck snort.

——–

Well, first of all, it’s nice to be wrong about today’s game, though I was right about one thing: Wolf was unimpressive. I suppose my mistake was in not forecasting 3 home runs from Casey McGehee after he had five in 428 plate appearances.

But anyway, on to the main point.  Tony La Russa continues to be a jag of epic proportions. Nothing he does should surprise us anymore, except what’s interesting is that his antics are finally starting to tire people other than his opponents. Have a look at this article from Yahoo Sports.

He sounds like he’s legitimately paranoid. If you care to, read through the transcript of his post-game interview. To sum it up, he first admits the pitch that hit Pujols wasn’t intentional–just inside, and “dangerous.” Then he called the fans idiots and immediately retracted it. Then he doesn’t literally admit (but pretty much does admit) that they intentionally threw at Braun.

So now, not only can you not hit Pujols, but you cannot even throw inside to him. Got it. Man, he contradicts himself in that article more than once.

Even his own team is questioning him! How about this quote from Lance Berkman? I couldn’t believe this.

It’s not like that was the first ball that had been thrown up and in,” Berkman said. “That one just happened to hit Albert. It’s certainly a situation that you don’t want to escalate any further than it needs to. Those things have a way of working out on the field.

Wow.

So in case you missed in, in the past 72 hours, La Russa has:

  • Complained about lighting around home plate at Miller Park (in the past he’s complained about slippery balls in Cincinnati and bullpen mounds in Colorad0)
  • Complained about the Brewers stealing signs
  • Retaliated for something he himself admitted was not intentional
  • Called Brewer fans idiots (some are, especially the ones in our section last night, but you still don’t say that as a manager)
  • Picked a fight with Bill Schroeder, of all people, and actually called him (!)
  • Argued a quick pitch today by LaTroy Hawkins that is legal when nobody is on base (Hawkins jumped way, way up in my book by quick pitching the next few pitches after TLR complained)

A guy could do all of that over the course of a season and be seen as whiny.

——–

Despite the tough loss last night, this was a good series and a great homestand. They’ve got a bit of a cushion with a 3.5 game lead, and hopefully they can extend that in Houston. It’s hard to believe that all this nonsense gets dialed up again next week in St. Louis.

————

EDIT:

Just came across an entertaining summary of La Russa’s complaints during his managerial career. Pretty entertaining.